Cambodia exported about 387,100 tonnes of rice in 2014, an increase of just 2 per cent of the 378,850 tonnes shipped in 2013, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Kim Savuth, deputy director of the Cambodia Rice Federation, attributed the slow growth to Thailand offloading its rice stockpiles that it built up under the country’s controversial rice pledge.
Rising competition from Myanmar, who in 2013 were re-instated under the EU’s Everything but Arms agreement, gaining preferential tax treatment on exports to EU member states, was also a factor, Savuth added.
“Although we can maintain an export amount similar to 2013, our profit margin has decreased significantly due to the fact that we must lower our price to enter the market, otherwise buyers might turn away from us,” he said.
Europe was Cambodia’s main export destination, accounting for about 62 per cent of rice exports in 2014.
Savuth said that 2015 would be an opportunity to improve export numbers, after the agreement reached in August, with China to export 100,000 tonnes of rice there.
“While the EU is still our main market, we see large potential in China,” he said.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said that lower prices were hurting farmers also.
“The prices of paddy are around 30 per cent lower than . It is the worst year for rice farmers when compared to the last five years,” he said.